If Teles Could Talk


Poster Extraordinaire
Gold Supporter
Apr 30, 2016
Crawfordville, FL
I saw this post from a local picker this morning and I couldn't resist sharing.

After 44 years, my Telecaster guitar rightfully smells like a decomposing combination of every honky-tonk, church, VFW dance hall, and all-day-to-do-gospel-sing-and-dinner-on-the-grounds combo where we every played.

You can even get a whiff of the asphalt parking lots of a few Piggly Wigley and Hogly Wogly grand openings. And if the light is just right, you can see a dusting on the inside of the guitar case. That patina settled there from clouds stomped up from hundreds of dance hall floors dusted and slicked down with corn meal to add skates to brown brogans and wings to red stilettos.

And if you’re real quiet when you open that case, you can almost hear the slurred voices from the ghosts of Haggard fans asking, “Do y’all know ‘Misery and Gin’?”

“Yes, we do,” the troubadours would say. “But not the song.”

I know several people who are glad Tele’s can’t talk. If guitars could, I know a lot of them that would have grass growing over them right now—their voices mum as they supply the Devil with boat paddles to get him across that “Lake of Fire” before his shoe bottoms get too hot.

While not in any all out wars, that Tele and I have seen and survived several bar-room skirmishes. You know, disagreements after somebody looked at somebody’s girlfriend, or at least somebody thought somebody did. That was to be expected since some of these places were dark dens where if you didn’t have a knife when you got there, they’d rent you one at the door. You know, just in case.

Like the night at the Blountstown Legion Hall when the entire crowd, all eight of them, wound up in the parking lot ditch fighting. There wouldn’t be much take-home pay that night, because we were playing for the door. So after the fight was over, we walked out to the ditch to look for wallets, you know, just in case. We found none. I guess that night everybody had them chained to their belt loops.

Most fights were mild skirmishes where no guns or knives were involved, only hissy fits and arthritic fists. Although one busy night in a Tallahassee bar we did witness one pistol whipping. Although it was just a .22, the guy on the receiving end said the barrel was a big as a fire hose. I guess it depends on your perspective.

As you can tell, this beat-up, electrified, six-string six-shooter, nicotine-shaded relic of a guitar and I have a history.

We have played music together while couples fell in love on the dance floor, and at the wedding reception of those same couples.

By the next year we played at their divorce parties, both his and hers. We got paid when the love was both comin’ and goin’, so to speak.

Thank goodness those parties were held at different locations. Except for that one in Kissimmee, Florida, that ended abruptly with a lot of cussing and exclamation points.

That guitar has outlasted two guitar cases and more than a few mental cases we have encountered.

The only reason I stopped playing it was because the frets were worn down to the wood. I was said to be the only fret-less Tele picker in Tallahassee.

Bobby Kennedy at “Music Masters” refretted it for me. I want to start playing it again, just to see if I left any hot licks in it back when my hands were younger.

Back then its tone could cut through to the back table of any dimly lit, fogged-up room full of loud drunks with barbecue stains on their shirts and lungs full of used cigarette smoke.

This Telecaster is the best honky tonk guitar money can buy. Despite it needing a good scrubbing and polishing, it is my “Pride and Joy.” (That explains the photo!)

But pride and joy runs in my family.

Daddy had one, too. It was his “Case” pocket knife.

“Best knife money can buy,” he’d say, as if we had much extra money to buy much of anything, even a pocket knife.

He used it to dig splinters, to cut up sugar cane into squares just right for chewing, and to whittle when he had time to piddle.

And with the help of a little spit and a wet stone, he kept that knife so sharp that young’uns were forbidden to even look at it for fear that just the sight of it might cut off our eyelashes.

One regret is that I didn’t put his pride and joy in a drawer and keep it.

If I had kept it, I’d keep that “Case” in my guitar case. You know, just in case.



Sep 8, 2022
Let's all take a moment to thank Leo and the Telecaster for their contributions.

Never forget that it was developed to fill a concert hall full of tone in a way only big band groups could at the time, all while being durable and friendly to play unlike the high action feedback factory electric guitars of that era. It was merely adopted later on for country and rock.

This story is a perfect fairytale for a legendary guitar that's seen it all and lasted through the ages. I love it!


Friend of Leo's
Jan 2, 2010
According to the bullet truss-rod, it is a Tele Custom.
Don't really know if that qualifies.
The standard Tele is the REAL honky-tonk guitar.
And...if anyone thinks Teles can't talk...listen to Roy Buchanan.
Here's mine.